DevOps Best Practices: 10 Benefits of Robust IT Infrastructure
The increasing global interest in DevOps practices is reasoned with essential business value they may bring to a company. The article provides some tips on how to optimize the workflow in your company using DevOps principles. Learn more about implementing DevOps lifestyle to achieve a robust IT infrastructure, and the role of DevOps tools in this process.
What is DevOps?
DevOps (an abbreviation for development and operations) is an approach used to minimize organizational barriers between all participants of software lifecycle. It consists in applying agile principles to development and testing, deployment and platform support, making them more reliable and faster.
It’s crucial to realize that DevOps is not
● just increasing the app lifecycle automation to the highest level possible
● hiring one specialist with DevOps skills to do all the magic in your team
On the contrary, value delivery to clients is a common goal reached through tight collaboration between specialists of different profiles. Based on continuous teamwork and interaction, the nature of DevOps processes is often visualized with an infinity loop.
It should be mentioned that a step of application concept development is not included into DevOps process. Yet, that’s where DevOps principles of cooperation and integrity ensure IT infrastructure robustness and meeting customers’ requirements.
Further we will get down to:
- what DevOps principles and business value are?
- The benefits of robust IT infrastructure and tips on their realization
- The role of DevOps tools
What DevOps principles and business value are
Fundamental DevOps principles may be defined with so-called CALMS framework: C – culture, A – automation, L- lean, M – measurement, S – sharing. Here’s a short description of each of them to get a better vision of a DevOps lifestyle.
● Culture – cross-functional teamwork, cooperation of team members of various specializations through continuous communication and interacting
● Automation – use of tools that continuously deploy, test, form packages and send them to operations server
● Lean – eliminating low-productivity operations, thus accelerating the software lifecycle processes; continuous improvement through retrospective analysis; testing different tools separately; the ability to spot troubles quickly, and solve them immediately
● Measurement of effectiveness through establishing clear and definite criteria of its evaluation. They may include duration of users’ interaction with the app, frequency of messages in a log about critical bugs, etc.
● Sharing consists in collective responsibility and success. Developers and operators interact at every stage of app’s lifecycle.
DevOps business value
According to DevOps Institute’s Upskilling 2021: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report, DevOps specialists are in high demand all over the globe. 53% of IT companies have recently hired or plan on hiring a DevOps engineer, making it a top demanded job. For instance, the second most popular position is Software engineer, mentioned by 26% of IT companies.
Such trend is absolutely reasoned, since the business value of correctly implemented DevOps can hardly be overestimated. Below there are mentioned only a few of the key benefits IT companies acquire with DevOps practices:
- reduction of time necessary for app release to reach the market;
- decrease of failure frequency in new releases;
- decrease of time necessary for recovery after a failure;
- higher quality and reliability of delivered services.
DevOps engineer catalyzes achieving of a robust IT infrastructure, using their profound experience as a leading professional in multiple fields. Their skills include the ones of a senior developer, system administrator, operations professional, combined with excellent communication and organizational abilities.
But what if there’s no specialist in the IT company with all the immense qualifications required for providing Cloud and DevOps services? And can be something done if hiring one currently is not an option due to their high rates?
Implementing DevOps principles is not a job of a single person and cannot be done without collective understanding and collaboration. It takes everyone’s courage, persistence and constant hard work to expand professional horizons and exclude any obstacles from the workflow.
Fostering DevOps culture is a natural evolution process that leads to higher efficiency, reliability and quality of customer services. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits the best DevOps practices can bring and how to start their implementation.
Benefits of robust IT infrastructure
1. Having a qualified team of professionals capable of completing every stage of app’s lifecycle.
No matter how large your company is, make sure that all development and operations phases are covered. And do not forget about the app concept development, even though it’s not included in the DevOps loop. It is impossible to implement continuous workflow when any of its key parts is absent.
2. Continuous staff professional growth, including acquiring of cross-specialty knowledge and skills.
Typically for human nature, the resistance to some kind of change is proportional to the impact this change may bring. Along with possible individual psychological barriers, often the teams are siloed and are used to rather independent work.
It’s crucial that team leads spread awareness about how processes integration and collaboration will benefit the whole app development procedure. Expanding professional competencies leads to better understanding of the stages that previously were out of one’s specialization scope.
No doubt, it is time-consuming and challenging to gain new skills and change your long-established work habits. However, the outcomes of such effort are workflow optimization, improved professional environment, IT company consolidation.
3. Short recovery time.
DevOps development recommends applying one upgrade at a time to the current package and suggests testing it immediately. It’s a sure way to know if it works well, and it’s quick to fix it if it doesn’t. If you apply multiple upgrades at once and spot a bug, it takes way more time to define which of the modifications has caused it.
4. Increasing levels of processes automation.
Automation of any process always implies a significant decrease of time necessary for its realization. However, don’t rush to automate everything what’s possible all at once.
Implement new tools gradually to get clear understanding of their pros and cons and operation peculiarities. That will allow avoiding any possible incompatibilities with the software and programming environments you already use. It’s also much easier to optimize the tech stack according to your needs that way and omit unneeded operations.
Containerization and managing infrastructure as a code is a right way to make the most of automation. Note that some cases may require manual testing, but DevOps practices do not include it. Never let striving for automation put your app’s quality at risk, apply it wisely and don’t omit necessary manual procedures.
5. Low level of failures.
Test different modules of an application separately to correctly evaluate the performance of each of them. This allows quick spotting of any deviation from predicted operation and troubleshooting as soon as possible.
It’s a good practice to set up environmental monitoring and alerting to ensure your app’s flawless performance. Use retrospective analysis to see what works for you best and what doesn’t, learn from your own experience.
6. Delivering high-quality and reliable products.
Minimizing the number of failures means providing a highly reliable product to customers thus improving their user experience. The understanding of full app lifecycle by each team member facilitates and optimizes the workflow. Together with continuous collaboration between professionals responsible for different stages of app development, this increases the quality of delivered products.
7. High efficiency: decreasing time required for app release to reach the market .
Once someone gets thrilled with an idea of an application, they can’t wait to see it working in all glory. With DevOps practices shorten the time needed for rework, unplanned work and failure recovery, and decrease the frequency of failures. The amount of saved time is essential, and it’s all yours for proceeding with new app releases!
8. Tracking the success and continuous evolving.
Establish clear and definite criteria that will help you evaluate progress at every stage of app lifecycle over a period of time. They may include
- the number of critical bugs
- total time spent on rework and recovery
- duration of users’ interaction with the app
- number of delivered releases over time.
Spot the areas that remain problematic and create strategy for their improvement, thus enhancing the workflow.
9. Common goals and shared success.
Unite all multifunctional teams in your company around a common goal, thus transforming them into one solid unit. Create a healthier work microclimate where every teammate feels responsibility for their job, their importance and contribution to overall success.
10. High level of customer satisfaction and business flexibility.
Develop customer-centric mindset within your organization and aim to deliver the highest quality product and services. Successful implementation of DevOps best practices provides high flexibility, that is the ability to adopt to new market requirements. Increasing customer satisfaction will win you their trust and recognition increasing the business value for your company.
The role of DevOps tools
Considering all said above, it’s clear that DevOps implementation is more about human resources. It’s culture, mindset and willingness to cooperate of every team member that shape the future progress.
It’s necessary to keep in mind that
- the tools alone won’t bring robustness to your IT infrastructure;
- there is no absolutely the best tech stack, the choice of tools is individual depending on company’s expertise and experience.
First, it's crucial to set up the infrastructure, keeping in mind all environments, databases, and repository administration necessary for your application development. In case of the already existing infrastructure, check its operation with the current app for any issues.
Consider all spotted faults while making a plan for infrastructure improvement based on your budget and requirements. It's useful to have a documentation portal where engineers can find all information about the infrastructure, and, together with DevOps, contribute to its continuous improvement.
According to DevOps Institute’s Upskilling 2021: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report, top automation tool categories include
- tools for continuous integration (e.g. Jenkins, Bamboo, TeamCity);
- tools for continuous delivery: a rather wide category, including most of the categories of DevOps tools; they ensure zero-downtime delivery for all environments along with readiness for new release production;
- tools for continuous deployment (e.g. Docker, AWS, DC/OS);
- tools for continuous operation and support (e.g. Cheff, Cubernetes, Ansible, Saltstack, sentry.io, CodeClimate, Codacy, Sonarcube);
- DevSecOps (development, security and operations) tools (e.g. AlertLogic, Halo).
Having all the tools selected and the infrastructure set up, it is recommended to review their operation on a weekly/ monthly basis. Use metrics and logs to form a report on the services, application performance, incoming traffic, security, vulnerability and budget optimization suggestions.
Besides tracking infrastructure performance, create support documentation highlighting its current configuration. Infrastructure diagram and short description of all used services may be useful for a customer and development team.
Let’s sum it up
Transition to DevOps lifestyle may seem overwhelming, but the reward it brings makes it definitely worth trying. It’s not a piece of cake to obtain a robust IT infrastructure ready to adjust to new market demands. However, taking a look at our own experience at Apiko leaves no doubt that it’s possible. With all said above, we believe you are all set to begin your DevOps journey. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions, we are always ready to help realize your business ideas.